“To err is human”, right?
But then why do we get chastised and scolded by our parents, teachers, bosses, when we make a mistake?
In their book, When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough, Martin Antony, PhD and Richard Swinson, MD discuss how both our biology (genetic make-up), and experiences can cause us to develop of strong fear to making mistakes. As they write: “Perhaps you assume that making mistakes will lead to some terrible consequence that can’t be corrected or undone (such as being fired or ridiculed by others). Or you may believe that making mistakes is a sign of weakness or incompetence.”
I am my own worst enemy in this way. And I know I am not alone in this. High achievers who feel the constant pressure to improve and succeed. Like pole vaulters, we have to raise the bar higher and higher after each successful pass. Until, eventually, the bar becomes too high and we miss.
We may try and try again but the constant pressure of having to succeed becomes a weight on our shoulders. It becomes exhausting and discouraging. Some of us (yes, definitely me!), Antony and Swindon say, become master procrastinators. We engage in “safety behaviors”; become perfectionists and avoid situations in which we may make mistakes.
My fantastic life coach, Terri Hofstetter, walked me through a short meditation exercise the other day:
Imagine taking a walk through your favorite place until you come across a door. You open the door to find a staircase. You walk down that staircase and, at the bottom, you see yourself as a child. She may be sitting in a chair reading a book or playing a game with dolls. Whatever she is doing, you can tell that she is still young and carefree. Take a moment to talk to her. And then you ask her what you can do for her. Listen to her response. She is your authentic self.
When I did this exercise with Terri, the voice of my inner child was clear,”Lighten up!” That’s what she said.
It was clear and loud. And it was so spot on. I have too many safety behaviors. I procrastinate from tasks because I’m afraid I won’t be able to complete the task perfectly. And I beat myself up because of it. I am SO the person Antony and Swindon describe in their book.
So in that vein, I want to share one of my recent mistakes with you. I make loads but this one was actually captured on film.
I hope it makes you smile.